By Barbara Cleverley


Publisher: Soho Crimes (2018)
Format: Hardcover
Price: $26.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-61695-876-3

Kindle edition: $14.99

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*** This book will be released in paperback 2 July, 2019. ($10.97) It is available for pre-order at online book sources.


A Detective Inspector Redfyre Investigation  (Book 1)


Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
(May, 2019)


1923: The War to end All Wars is over, and Cambridge is adjusting to the new world order. John Redfyre, who knows the city and its denizens well, is an up and coming Detective Inspector in the local police force, and a sought-after bachelor. His Aunt Henrietta tries to help in that regard, but he prefers to control his own love life. He doesn’t have time for that nonsense right now anyway. He does accept a ticket to the St. Barnabas College Christmas concert, expecting an entertaining evening. He has second thoughts, however, when she tells him his seatmate will be Eadwig, one the horde of Stretton kids he’d known in his childhood. They were bullies one and all, who’d tormented the shy and gentle boy he was. When the owner of the other ticket came to join him, he’s pleasantly surprised to find that Eadwig, dubbed Earwig by her family, is a girl: a very lovely, self-assured and vivacious young lady, in fact. 

The Christmas concert features, incongruously, a female trumpeter, one Juno Proudfoot. Never before had such a thing happened in this conservative bastion of maleness. Not all of the staid, conservative college officials approve, but the show does go on. Juno is statuesque and beautiful, bringing to mind the goddess whose name she bears. Her performance is unique, and the shocked audience ends up loving it.

At the end of the performance, Redfyre makes her acquaintance up close and personal, when she tumbles down the stairs and lands in his arms. Eadwig, a nurse, rushes to her side to check her condition. The trio is quickly surrounded by helpful concert goers offering medical aid, smelling salts, even a ride home in a Rolls-Royce. She is taken off by an ambulance, leaving the inspector to wonder: did she fall or was she pushed? Evidence points to the latter. Even more disturbing, the contents of a small container offered by one well-wisher, quickly confiscated by Eadwig, turns out to be poison. Juno is Eadwig’s friend; fearing she might also be a target, Redfyre insists on taking her to his home for protection. She is not amused, but goes along with him.

On that same night, a young woman headed for home after the concert is murdered, left face down by the river near her home. As the days go by, other women, apparently targeted by the same cold-blooded murderer, die in similar fashion. It is not uncommon for ladies of the night to meet this fate, but these victims are well-educated and well-bred, from respectable families.

The victims are mostly from a secret society with an undetermined agenda. In this post-war climate, civil disorder is on the rise. Women are demanding the right to vote, among other previously unimagined privileges. Tensions between Town and Gown, employer and employee, citizens and officials are running high. Redfyre’s investigation turns over some ugly secrets and scandals that further rock the city. Redfyre and his officers must tread lightly and carefully in their mission to solve the crimes.

FALL OF ANGELS is the first in a new series for Ms. Cleverley, author of the popular Joe Sandilands series. It has all the hallmarks of the best of the Golden Age mysteries with all their charm. Her mastery of the post-war time period, the clothes, the culture, the politics, and the scenery that is found in her previous series enrich this novel as well. Recommended.

Copyright 2019 Shirley Wetzel. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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